Titans Stress Importance of Continuing Improvements


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — An annual goal is no longer a possibility for the Titans this season, but a daily goal remains.

Tennessee was eliminated from playoff contention after last week's loss at Indianapolis, but Titans coach Mike Munchak wants to see continual progression made by players and the offensive and defensive schemes in the final three games this season.

The Titans returned to the practice field Wednesday to prepare to host the New York Jets (6-7) at LP Field in a nationally televised *Monday Night Football *contest.

Munchak said his top goal each year is to win enough games to make the playoffs, and his secondary goal is to continue to develop a young team that's suffered three consecutive losses for the first time in his two-year tenure.

"Our goal right now is to finish the season and win these three games and build confidence in the guys," Munchak said. "This is a young football team that's going to be here for a long time. We have a good, core group here that we're going to keep adding to.

"Again, these are tough times to go through, when things aren't going your way, you're not getting breaks the way you hoped," Munchak continued. "It's how you handle them, and I think this group will grow because of it and be a better team because of what they're going through right now. The goal is to be sitting here next year at this time and saying, 'You know what? Last year was a tough year on all of us, but now we see all of the stuff we've learned from what happened last year.' "

Although the ultimate results haven't appeared on the scoreboard in a 24-19 loss at Jacksonville, a 24-10 loss against Houston and a 27-23 loss at Indianapolis, Munchak said he's seen improvements in multiple areas.

Several defensive stats show considerable progress, especially when the past four games are compared with Tennessee's first five games. The Titans' first five opponents this season scored 30 or more points, a mark that none of the past four opponents have reached. The chart below illustrates other statistical improvements:

Opponent statistic

First five games

Past four games

First downs per game



Third down conversions

28-66 (42 percent)

17-56 (30 percent)

Total net yards per game



Net yards rushing per game



Net yards passing per game



Pass completions

135-181 (74.6 percent)

77-134 (57.5 percent)

"I think we're starting to develop the way we hoped we would," Munchak said. "The games aren't ending up the way we hoped they would right now. We're just going to keep battling through this thing the next three weeks and put the best guys on the field and play with a positive attitude and fight our way through this thing and not feel sorry for ourselves, and not worry about the consequences at the end of the season."

A combination of missed opportunities, inopportune mistakes and bad bounces has deterred the Titans from the win column.

Cornerback Jason McCourty and linebacker Akeem Ayers said they can see improvements by the defense but added the most important thing is getting wins.

"You turn on the film and it's not like we're getting crushed or we're playing bad," McCourty said Tuesday. "We were just watching the film (from the Colts game) as a defense, and we made plays in that game and held them stat-wise but we had a fumble on the ground we didn't get and we had a fumble on an offsides penalty that we got but it comes back because of the penalty, so for us, we've just got to play smarter and take advantage of the opportunity that's there.

"We want to win our last three games and we're going to do everything we possibly can to do that," McCourty added.

Ayers said he thinks continuing to improve in the final three games will be beneficial to developing the team's identity and have a positive impact next season.

"We're getting better every week," Ayers said. "We're starting to build that confidence on our defense. Like I said, we've got a lot of young guys, and you definitely want it to carry over to next year so we're just trying to develop, get that attitude on defense, that no matter what goes on, we're going to get the ball stopped or we're going to hold them to field goals."

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